Birthday Bash – Desert to Mountains

I enjoy taking off time for my birthday. However, I feel the idea of working on holidays, weekends, and my birthday are both anathema to how I want to enjoy my time.  Oh, I don’t think my day of birth is anything special. I just enjoy the gift of time that comes with taking off time in May.

This year my original plan saw me taking off five days for some time in The Maze. But then something wondrous happened: Three vaccinated friends decided to take a drive to Moab. Friends I have not seen since pre-COVID. Friends I’ve shared many mountain peaks, trails, and more than a few pints with over the years I lived in Boulder.

I gladly changed up the plans and picked a route I think would work for the allotted time.

A variation of something I did with Joan but with some additions.

My friends, who have limited experience in my neck of the desert, enjoyed the beauty of the canyon, the ancient structures, and the signs left behind by people who came this way before.

No matter how much I explore the canyons and see what the Ancestral Pueblo crafted, I never delight in seeing them more.

Or share the experience with others.

Alas, the water sources seemed a bit thinner than comfortable. And no one wanted a slog through rugged terrain with questionable water.

The local wildlife included!

Turkey vulture at a very faint seep.

We headed out, hiked a bit near our vehicles, and explored some sites near the canyon rim.

We later made a dispersed camp in the trees. Unfortunately, the wind picked up that night, and we awoke to some dark, gray, and ominous clouds.

A sign of vacating before the rains hit—a welcome sight during this drought year. But rutted dirt roads are not a place to tarry when the rains come! So we packed up quickly and reached pavement not long before the first bit of rain came down from above.

I played tour guide a bit and showed my friends the easily accessible Mule Canyon area with its kiva and overlook of cliff dwellings.

We all headed back to Moab, where they met Joan, and all of us enjoyed some pints for lunch (yay!) and later in the evening as well for dinner.  I did an impromptu walking tour of downtown Moab showing some of the lesser-known sites and how much it’s changed even in the three years since I’ve been a resident of this town. With more changes on the way.

We said our “until next times,” and I know it won’t be 14+ months and a pandemic in-between visits. At least, I hope!

With a weekend available to us, Joan and I decided to go up the mountainous area north of us and avoid the heat.

The mountains reminded us more of October than May. The gray skies, gently falling snow up high, and the cool temps made us feel we should wear blaze orange.

The aspens and lodgepole pines gave us sharp relief to the desert floor of our home.

Though it felt similar to October, a glimpse of spring appeared amongst the fall feel.

Though we tend to disperse camp, a $10 USFS site by the creek, with no people, proved too good to pass up on a cold and rainy night. We half-kiddingly called it our budget Air BNB.

After a restful night, we hiked up another nearby trail to the ridge.

PCO Joan.

The views from the ridge seemed tantalizing for future hikes.

We made our way down and made a quick hot drink on the tailgate before heading home.


Not quite the week I expected, but an enjoyable time nonetheless.  The gift of time never fails to delight.

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